Cameron Weiss, a 27 year old WOSTEP Certified Watchmaker and Los Angeles native had just one very clear goal when launching Weiss Watch Co with the Standard Issue Field Watch — to return prestige to American watchmaking.
Weiss is not the first watch company to open up shop in the United States. In fact, many years ago there were many very prevalent watch manufacturers creating cases, dials, crystals, and even movements right here in the states. One by one though, the brands were shut down or acquired by overseas corporations, and the art and craft of watchmaking left the states entirely.
Fast forward to today — mechanical watches are having a resurgence and there is increasing desire to help rebuild the American economy by buying products made stateside. Cameron Weiss is pushing this along by building his company with the notion of creating each of his timepieces by hand, entirely in his hometown of Los Angeles, CA.
Nearly every piece of the Standard Issue Field Watch is manufactured in the United States, with the exception of the Unitas 6497-1 movement, which is from Swiss origin. That being said, each movement is finished and assembled by Cameron himself, and he is currently working on bringing the manufacturing of movements to the states as well.
Case & Design
The Standard Issue Field Watch is undeniably military inspired, with its incredibly simple and legible dial and strong sword shaped hands. It is available with either a black or white dial, and both lend themselves well to the elegant but utilitarian design. The Weiss logo is just the right size and stands out without feeling overpowering. There has been some question in the watch enthusiast community about whether or not the words "Los Angeles, CA" should have earned their way onto a watch dial, but Cameron is clearly proud of this watches origins, and I appreciate this small but meaningful stamp of confidence. "Los Angeles, CA" does not currently hold the same prestige that "SWISS MADE" does, but that's what Weiss is attempting to change.
At 42mm in diameter, this is exactly what I would consider a "normal" size watch. It's not overpoweringly large, but it looks and feels modern and wears on the wrist very well. At just under 13mm thick, it will easily fit under a shirt cuff and never felt like I was wearing a hockey puck on my wrist. I have a 6.75" wrist, and 42mm is about as large as I ever like to go — but this watch never felt too big for me, and didn't look out of place with any outfit I wore.
The case is mostly brushed steel, with the exception of a highly polished bezel. This is a nice touch that adds a bit of class and I believe makes the watch fit better in a more formal environment. The brushing is uniform and clean, with none of the typical waves or uneven markings that are commonly found among less expensive handmade timepieces. It's perfectly executed, and the details are beautifully done.
When looking at the side of the watch, you'll notice that unique lug shape. They are angular, but remain relatively flat, with the caseback cover cutting into them to reveal the four screw mounting points for the rear sapphire crystal. I've never seen a detail quite like this, and it gives a unique bit of flair to an otherwise dead-simple case design.
Both the front and the back of the watch are covered with sapphire, with only the front being very slightly domed. The crystals look flawless and the dome is a very nice touch.
The Standard Issue Field Watch comes on a 20mm American-made nylon strap in a very attractive army-like olive green. It speaks to the military aesthetic and looks fantastic with either of the available dial colors. It is nicely crafted, and has a soft leather backing that makes it very comfortable to wear as well. Weiss also sells an American-made leather strap that looks nice, feels great, and can add some class to the watch to make it work better in a slightly more formal environment.
The hand-wound ETA Unitas 6497-1 inside the Standard Issue Field Watch is considered by many to be a workhorse movement. It's common in watches of this style, and has been used in many Panerai watches as well. That said, it's rarely seen in watches under 44mm, and when you look at the back, you can easily see why. The movement is as large as the case would allow, and this makes for an absolutely beautiful edge-to-edge view through the rear sapphire crystal.
The movement is very nicely finished, with Geneve striping and blued screws, in addition to the beautifully engraved and painted Weiss logo opposite the crown. The 6497-1 will never win any awards for being unique or particularly special, but it is without a doubt an excellent and well respected movement that fits with this watch's aesthetic particularly well.
The Standard Issue Field Watch is, without a doubt, a beautiful and well-made timepiece and an excellent value regardless of it's origin. The movement is solid, the case finishing is perfect, and the style is just classic and cool.
It has its roots firmly planted in the United States, and being hand-built by Cameron himself right here in Los Angeles not only adds an element of charm, but also excitement and promise that there is a future for watchmaking in America. There's nothing trivial about starting a watch company, and doing so with the lofty goal of being all-US makes it exponentially more difficult, but Weiss' passion for the craft is clear, and there's no denying that he's succeeded with the Standard Issue Field Watch. I have a feeling that the future is bright for Weiss Watch Co and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.
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